Fear is public enemy number one. The other day I talked about what if. Those two words really wouldn’t have an impact on our lives if it weren’t for fear. Fear is what makes the world go round. People are constantly making decisions and taking action out of fear. And some people use fear as a weapon; they find someones weakness and use it against them to get what they want.
Growing up, fear controlled everything that I did. My every move was based off of my fear for the world. I can’t even begin to tell you the things I was afraid of; if I did, I could go on forever.
I spent day and night with my body exhausted and my mind buzzed on fear. Like I’ve mentioned multiple times, sleep is impossible for me at night. I was just telling someone today that I’d do anything to be able to sleep at night— I’m just tired from trying so hard. I’ve been running on E for eight years.
Back when things were really bad for me, my entire family pretty much had to be careful of their every move. I had so many little things that I’d decided weren’t allowed— well, my fear decided. For the sake of not having this be as long as a book, I’ll stick to the big one. News.
News was the ultimate no. It was not to be played in my presence. I would do everything in my power to avoid the news. I would make my mom swear up and down that she wouldn’t play the news in the mornings. When we went out to eat, if the news was on I would make sure I was facing away from the TV. If someone got a notification on their phone in regard to the news, I’d ask them to shut it off right away. The fear of what I would see was too much for me to bare.
The most crazy part about this story is that although it seems that I did everything in my power to avoid the news because of my fear… I also secretly spent those years listening to the news, wanting to hear something bad that way my fear had validation.
I used to sleep on the couch to I could play the TV while I tried to sleep; the silence of a dark room was too much for me. So every morning when my mom woke up and thought that I was sound asleep, she would turn the news on quietly and I would pretend to sleep, listening to every word they said. When we went out to eat, even though I’d be sat facing away I would constantly turn to face it and watch as the stories flashed across the screen. When someone got a notification on their phone if I couldn’t read what it said on my own, I would beg them to tell me what it said.
My fear was pulling me in two completely opposite directions, and that made it even harder. I wasn’t sure which way I was supposed to turn. I wanted so badly to avoid all of the bad things in this world, but I also didn’t want to constantly make up stories in my head about what could be happening.
I’ve had to delete social media off of my phone on multiple occasions because of the news. Twitter was the worst. I found it to be the most triggering for me because people spoke so freely on there. Compared to other platforms I found Twitter had less of a filter.
I remember a night specifically where I was downstairs on the couch, attempting to sleep but having no luck. I had just recently re-downloaded Twitter onto my phone and was scrolling through it. I’d always done my best to avoid the trending page, but as I mentioned before, I also felt forced to look at it. When I looked, the number one trending topic was “North Korea”. My stomach instantly dropped, and I was frozen. I finally clicked on it and a million different things popped up. The main story behind it was that North Korea was threatening the US like they did pretty much every year. I, however, didn’t know that. I flipped. I had an instant anxiety attack. The worst part is, I continued to read as I shook and cried. Finally I threw my phone to the ground and ran upstairs to wake up my mom and step-dad, Bob. I made both of them get out of bed and come downstairs to talk to them about it. I was freaked. I finally started to calm down as Bob talked to me, reassuring me that it meant nothing. The things people were saying had no meaning. The threat North Korea made meant nothing. It was all okay. I just needed to get it through my head that it was all okay.
My mom eventually went back to bed but I had Bob stay downstairs and talk to me longer. I’m the kind of person who constantly needs to be reassured when it comes to something I’m worried about. I ask the same question over and over, trying to get it through my had that it will all be okay, and even if things don’t turn out okay, I’d still make it.
From that moment on, Bob became the person I went to every time I saw something on the news I was worried about. He never lied just to make me feel better. He always told me exactly how things were, but also how things would be okay. He’s still the person I go to when I hear something that makes me worry. Thanks M.O.D…
Stories like that were pretty much a very repetitive thing in my life. I’ve caused people to lose a lot of sleep because of my failed attempts to shut down my fear. Not only have I caused them to miss out on sleep. I’ve caused them to miss out on a lot of things because my fear always found it’s way to the number-one spot on my priority list. And they missed out on those things because they cared. Which means more to me than I’ll ever be able to express.
The very first time I ever remember taking a step back and really listening to what my fear had to say without allowing it to have an impact on my day was when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. I really, really started taking it more seriously when I finally saw her in person.
Since that day I’ve learned not to let my fear control me. Whenever I come across something that freaks me out, I pause, take a deep breath, and think about how this thing really affects me, then deal with it calmly. I refuse to instantly tense up and cry like I used to.
I’m not really sure how it happens; how all of a sudden one day you wake up and realize how stupid your fear is. You are just suddenly hit with this crazy realization that you’re the one that’s in control. Not fear. I said to someone the other day: It’s easier to sit in pain in suffer, than it is to get up and do the work it takes to be happy. That goes right alone with fear. If you’re willing to fight for it, don’t let anything stop you… Regardless of how hard it may be.
When you finally have a little bit of a grasp on your fear, life becomes a tad easier. You aren’t constantly looking over your shoulder wondering when the next thing is going to jump out and scare you. Fear is a very powerful thing. So do your best to learn how to kick it out of the driver seat, because the road is easier to navigate that way.
I want to add one of my favorite Elizabeth Gilbert quotes to the end of this. Big Magic is a book I would recommend to anyone. Especially the people struggling to take a step in the direction they desire.
Here’s the quote
Fear: “I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still-your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear and old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”-Elizabeth Gilbert